Altium Designer

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Altium Designer
Altium Designer Logo.png
Initial release2005; 14 years ago (2005)
Stable release
19 / December 14, 2018; 5 months ago (2018-12-14)
Written inDelphi, C#, C++
Operating systemMicrosoft Windows
TypeElectronic design automation

Altium Designer is a PCB and electronic design automation software package for printed circuit boards. It is developed by Australian software company Altium Limited.


In 1985, Protel Systems Pty Ltd launched the DOS-based PCB design tool known as Protel PCB (which later emerged into Autotrax and Easytrax). Originally it was sold only in Australia.[1][2] Protel PCB was marketed internationally by HST Technology Pty Ltd. since 1986.[2] In October 1986 the San Diego-based ACCEL Technologies, Inc. acquired marketing and support responsibilities of the PCB program for the USA, Canada and Mexico under the name Tango PCB.[2] In 1987, Protel launched the circuit diagram editor Protel Schematic for DOS.

In 1991, Protel released Advanced Schematic and Advanced PCB 1.0 for Windows (1991-1993), followed by Advanced Schematic/PCB 2.x (1993-1995) and 3.x (1995-1998). In 1998, Protel 98 consolidated all components, including Advanced Schematic and Advanced PCB, into a single environment. Protel 99 in 1999 introduced the first integrated 3D visualization of the PCB assembly. It was followed by Protel 99 SE in 2000.

Protel DXP was issued in 2003, Protel 2004 in 2004, Altium Designer 6.0 in 2005.

Altium Designer version 6.8 from 2007 was the first to offer 3D visualization and clearance checking of PCBs directly within the PCB editor.

In April 2011, Altium moved from Australia to Shanghai in China.[3]


Altium Designer's suite encompasses four main functional areas: schematic capture,[4] 3D PCB design,[5] Field-programmable gate array (FPGA) development[6] and release/data management.[7] Noteworthy features referred to in the reviews include:

  • Integration with several component distributors allows search for components and access to manufacturer's data[8][9]
  • Interactive 3D editing of the board and MCAD export to STEP[10]
  • Cloud publishing of design and manufacturing data[11]
  • Simulation and debugging of the FPGA can be achieved using the VHDL language and checking that for a given a set of input signals the expected output signals would be generated.[12]. FPGA soft processor software development tools (compiler, debugger, profiler) are available for selected embedded processors within an FPGA.[13]

Reception and criticisms[edit]

Altium Designer is generally found to be more costly than other PCB design software but is noted for its ability to achieve fast results for complex circuits.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Nick Martin .:". Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  2. ^ a b c TangoPCB. Tango-PCB 3.12. ACCEL Technologies, Inc. 1987-12-01 [1986]. It was originally written in 1985 by Nick Martin, of Australia, and sold under the name of PROTEL-PCB. In 1986, ACCEL Technologies, Inc., of San Diego, California, acquired marketing and support responsibilities for the product in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. […] The reference manual was re-written for the American market. ACCEL markets the product under the name Tango-PCB.
  3. ^ Francoise, Anne (2011-04-06). "Altium to transfer HQ from Sydney to Shanghai". EE Times. Retrieved 2017-12-18.
  4. ^ "The Ultimate PCB Design Software Comparison | SFCircuits". Retrieved 2017-12-21.
  5. ^ Moretto, Gabe (2007-11-26). "Altium releases 3D PCB visualization".
  6. ^ Holland, Colin (2010-05-25). "Aldec FPGA simulation added to Altium Designer". EE Times.
  7. ^ "Altium announces new publishing and version control capabilities". EE Times. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
  8. ^ "CAD links to disty databases gain momentum". EE Times. Retrieved 2010-09-08.
  9. ^ "Altium releases 3D PCB visualization". EE Times. Retrieved 2010-09-06.
  10. ^ "Head in the clouds". FPGA Journal. Archived from the original on 2010-12-27. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
  11. ^ "Aldec FPGA simulation added to Altium Designer". EE Times. Retrieved 2010-09-06.
  12. ^ "Altium announces support for Xilinx MicroBlaze processor". FPGA World. Archived from the original on 2010-08-13. Retrieved 2010-09-06.
  13. ^ Kansagara, Ravi (2018-01-10). "How to Choose The Best PCB Design Software". CircuitDesign. Altium. Archived from the original on 2018-11-16. Retrieved 2018-11-16.


External links[edit]